What are palpitations?

Palpitations are the sensation that your heartbeat is not normal. Although the sensations may vary, all of them cause you to have an uncomfortable awareness of your heartbeat. Palpitations may be felt in your chest, throat or neck. You may feel as if your heart is racing and pounding, or you may feel as if your heart is skipping beats, fluttering, or stopping.

Palpitations may be felt with a normal heartbeat or may result from an abnormal heartbeat. Palpitations may be mild to severe in intensity and occur only at certain times of day or when you perform certain activities. Palpitations may be recent in origin (acute) or develop over time (chronic). In some situations, palpitations can occur as a result of chronic medical conditions you may have.

There are many causes of palpitations, which range from mild to serious. Palpitations can result from cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, psychological, or respiratory diseases, disorders, and conditions. Cardiac arrhythmias are one cause of palpitations in which the heart beats irregularly or too fast. Certain medications or other substances, such as caffeine, are also known to cause palpitations.

Most palpitations are not serious. However, palpitations may occur as a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition, such as a heart attack. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience shortness of breath or pain or pressure in the chest area, or if you think you may be having a heart attack.

Seek prompt medical care if your palpitations are persistent or cause you concern.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with palpitations?

Palpitations may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the heart may also involve other body systems. Some symptoms that may accompany palpitations may indicate a serious or life-threatening condition.

Common symptoms that may occur along with palpitations

Palpitations may accompa... Read more about palpitationssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes palpitations?

There are many causes of palpitations, which range from mild to serious. Your health care provider will most likely perform diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of your palpitations.

Cardiovascular causes of palpitations

Palpitations may be caused by a cardiovascular disorder or disease including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Heart, Blood and Circulation